Toy Community Offers Support for Families, Teachers Prepping for School Year Amid Pandemic

remote-learningSeptember 8, 2020 | Whether learning in-person, virtually, or in a hybrid model, one thing is certain about this school year: it is going to look a lot different for most families and educators. And with that, the toy industry is doing its part to lend a hand.

“We’ve seen how The Toy Foundation and The Genius of Play have worked to support underserved communities and families during the pandemic,” said Ken Seiter, executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “Not only have The Toy Foundation’s recent grants helped provide immediate relief to communities facing food and job insecurities, but The Genius of Play’s play resources and recent research also indicate more families are using play to supplement their children’s education this year.”

The Toy Foundation broadened its mission this spring and presented $260,000 in cash grants to help supply basic necessities, learning materials, and digital devices to families without access, while The Genius of Play launched the Play Today campaign to help millions of families cope, learn, and have fun while social distancing.

Here are some additional ways the toy community is coming together to support families and teachers gearing up for the new school year:

  • hand2mind and Learning Resources partnered with the Kids in Need Foundation to fill 600 backpacks with toys and supplies to help ensure every student at the North Elementary School in Waukegan, IL. had the supplies they needed for a successful start to the school year, whether learning remotely or in-person. This is one of many product donations the family of companies, which also includes Educational Insights, has planned throughout the back-to-school season. Educational Insights also donated Playfoam for inclusion in more than 350 art kits for Chelsea's Charity, an organization created by 10-year-old Chelsea Phaire that is devoted to donating art supplies and lessons to support children’s social-emotional and mental health development.

  • Hasbro launched the global initiative, Cans of Kindness, to recognize and reward teachers around the world. As part of the initiative, Play-Doh is donating up to 1 million cans of Play-Doh to Save the Children in support of early education programs and to inspire others to give back to the teachers in their life. Leading up to World Play-Doh Day on September 16, one teacher will be selected at random to win a year’s worth of Play-Doh for their classroom.

  • LEGO Education has introduced new learning resources for parents and educators, including guides that allow teachers to adapt any LEGO Education lesson to virtual learning. Among other programs, the company also teamed up with the coding and robotics platform CoderZ to feature a virtual SPIKE Prime experience that allows students to practice their coding and STEAM skills in an entirely online setting that complements hands-on building activities.

  • The Mattel Children’s Foundation presented the Communities in Schools of LA with a grant to help purchase WiFi hot spots to help children in vulnerable communities get online for virtual schooling. The company has also donated school and arts supplies, in addition to games and toys, to a variety of national organizations including Save the Children, Feed the Children, and Special Olympics to support programming for the start of the school year, among other initiatives.

  • VTech partnered with in the spring to provide a $50,000 donation to support the teachers and educators who went above and beyond to make distance learning a success for their students and communities. The organizations are teaming up again this fall to help an overlooked segment of high-need Pre-K teachers purchase supplies for this school year, whether teaching in classroom or remotely.

As part of its commitment to promote members’ products and philanthropic efforts, The Toy Association will continue to highlight company resources through promotional and media opportunities and ongoing charity spotlights. To learn more about how to have your company’s news featured, contact The Toy Association’s Jennifer Lynch.